Jesus, Kanye, & LeBron: A Sermon on Mark 6

He left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honor, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. – Mark 6:1-13

Dear friends in Christ, grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Creator and from our Lord Jesus who is the Christ. Amen.

I heard a story a couple weeks ago about an elderly woman who lived down the street from a young Neil Armstrong. She described him as quite the troublemaker — sort of an Eddie Haskell type character. So when she saw on her television that little Neil Armstrong from down the street was the first man to step foot on the moon, she refused to believe it. There’s no way that bratty kid from down the street could possibly become the first man to walk in space.

This is kind of like when Jesus comes back to teach in his hometown. Initially the crowds were astounded. But then they started wondering where little Jesus from down the village pathway could become such an astounding teacher and prophet. Listen to their words: “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary?” This is a total dig on Jesus. The lowly carpenter from the single-parent family? How could he possibly be teaching like this?

And it makes sense too. 3 chapters earlier — in Mark 3 — Jesus pretty much disowned his family. “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” This is kind of like the equivalent of LeBron James jet-setting back to Cleveland to show off his brand new championship ring. The people of Cleveland would riot in the streets if something like that would happen. The people who were listening to Jesus consider this an insult to his hometown and so his neighbors are rightfully pissed.

Then Jesus comes in with “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown.” I’ve been listening to a song lately called “No Church in the Wild.”  It’s by a couple of guys named Kanye West and Jay-Z. The hook of the song starts out by comparing power dynamics. “What’s a mob to a king? What’s a king to a God? What’s a God to a non-believer?” The question we could ask Jesus in Mark’s gospel today is “What’s a prophet to people who won’t listen?” So we get a hint that something is about to change. There’s about to be a major shift in Mark’s story.

He calls the disciples to him and begins to send them out 2 by 2 to go into the homes and preach repentance and drive out unclean spirits. This 2 by 2 thing isn’t new to us with Bible stories, is it? We remember Noah. Except, in Mark, this is just turning Noah’s command on its head.

In Genesis, Noah essentially calls out that all creatures should come to him 2 by 2 or they would die in the flood.

In Mark, Jesus sends the disciples out 2 by 2 so that there may be life.

In John 10, the gospel writer says that Jesus has come that we may have life and have it abundantly. God has come down with a love so overflowing that it not only fills us, but it breaks out of our homes and our lives. It breaks out of every boundary we try to put on it and explodes out into the world. We’re sent out to live like this love matters.

We’re sent out to live loved.

When that happens, when we love people as we have been loved, there is healing. Hearts that have been broken, heels that are bruised from being dug in the ground against our family and friends — all of these wounds that we have are healed in love. Demons are cast out and those have fallen ill are anointed. So our job is to go out!

Live the precious life that you have been given knowing that there is not a single thing you can do to separate us from the love of God. Amen.


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